Sexual cyberhassment, more commonly known as revenge porn, is when someone posts or distributes intimate videos, photos, or images of another person online without their consent and with the intention to harass or upset that person. In general, when a person gives consent for a depiction of themselves in a sexually explicit image, the reasonable presumption is that they expect that image is going to remain private – even if they share it with someone else, such as an intimate partner. Violation of that trust is cyber sexual harassment.
As a crime, sexual cyberharassment in Florida is a third-degree felony, which carries a maximum penalty of 5 years in prison, per F.S. 784.049. Identifying information of the person depicted is a key element in the charge, as is the intent to cause emotional distress.
In addition to seeing justice through criminal charges and penalties, victims are within their rights to pursue monetary damages against the offender. As our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers can explain, the statute explicitly grants victims of this crime the right to initiate a civil action against the person who broke the law for various remedies, which may include:
- Injunctive relief. This is an order to prevent, stop, or command certain behaviors.
- Monetary damages of up to $5,000 or actual damages incurred as a result of violation of the law – whichever is greater. Damages can include things such as medical bills, lost wages or employment, and physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Reasonable attorney fees and costs.
There may be additional avenues in civil court to pursue for compensation in a case of sexual cyberharassment, but it will depend on the exact facts of the case and whether other entities had any degree of control over the offender. In particular, we’d be interested in analyzing whether the incidents occurred to any extent in the course and scope of employment. If an employer ignored a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there could be liability. Businesses have a responsibility to hold employees accountable for sexual harassment once it’s been reported. Schools, too, may be liable if they were made aware of a problem and failed to address it.
Where Do I Start in a Florida Sexual Cyberharassment Case?
Internet-based crimes can sometimes make it tricky to determine jurisdiction. In general, if the act of posting the photo/video/image took place in Florida OR the harm occurred there, then Florida is likely the proper venue for legal action.
For example, if a person uses a computer in New York to post revenge porn affecting a person who lives in Florida, the Sunshine State may well have jurisdiction.
Often in cases like these, attorneys representing victims of sexual assault or cyberharassment work on a contingency fee basis. That means they are not paid unless or until you are successful in your claim. When you win, they are paid a percentage. If you’re successful in a case pursued on the basis of a F.S. 784.049 violation, the court may order the defendant to pay your attorney’s fees.
If the matter is appropriate for small claims court, you may not need an attorney. Small claims court in Florida is appropriate for civil matters valued at $8,000 or less. It’s a good idea to talk to an experienced civil trial lawyer before taking this step, though, just to make sure doing so is what’s best for your situation and that it won’t foreclose on other legal options. We can also assist clients in preparation for small claims court. Initial consultations are free.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
F.S. 784.049, Sexual Cyberharassment in Florida